For this last week of passion blogging, I’d like to take a look at a National Park that I haven’t experienced yet but hope to visit in my lifetime. Sometimes I feel like I’ve seen a lot that this country has to offer, but the reality is that there is a vast amount of wide-open spaces I haven’t stepped foot in yet. It is this notion that excites me more than anything.
You might have noticed a general trend towards The Taylor Family taking vacations in the western part of the United States. For my next park, I’d love to get out of the lower 48 and visit Denali National Park in Alaska. Ever heard of Chris McCandless from John Krakauer’s “Into the Wild”? This is the very place where a young man lost himself in the untamed Alaskan bush- literally, as he starved and did not return alive.
While I have no intentions of ever being a repeat Chris McCandless, I would love to travel to Alaska. From what I’ve heard, the Alaskan Range is more spectacular than the Rockies, the wildlife is truly wild, and wintertime activities such as dogsledding and cross-country skiing are a blast. Excuse me while I book the next flight to Healy, Alaska!
Alaska is pretty bare, and Denali is no exception. Unlike many popular, frequented parks, there is only one 91-mile road that runs throughout the park: Denali Park Road. In fact, most of the true wilderness of the park is inaccessible by vehicles. In order to get to the true heart of it, one must obtain a camping permit and plan to backpack to see the untouched beauty up close.
Another highlight of Denali National Park is Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America. I don’t have much climbing experience, but even to stand at its base and take in its massive grandeur would be incredible. The geology nerd in me also has to point out the glaciers that cover 16% of the park’s acreage. As an avid hiker of forests and mountains, glacial hiking is always something I’ve wanted to do.
I wish I had some insider information to share about Denali, but I will have to update you all after my trip, whenever that may be. The paramount reason I value the National Parks system is because they offer something vastly different from what I have lived growing up in a suburb in Pennsylvania. Whether it is the landscape, wildlife, or recreational activity, visiting a National Park means the opportunity to experience something new and learn from it. I place a lot of value on experiential learning, the type of learning that takes independent from the classroom.
Whatever your plans may be for this summer, take a few days to spend some time outside. You don’t need to plan an extensive trip to a National Park; lets not forget about the State Parks, wilderness areas, national and historical monuments, and nature trails established in our backyards. Legislature has set these areas aside for protection and enjoyment, so let’s make use of them! I hope I’ve instilled a sense of adventure in you this semester through my various accounts of the National Parks I’ve been fortunate enough to visit in my lifetime. Never stop exploring! –Maddie
For an easy-to-browse list of the US’s National Parks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_parks_of_the_United_States